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Be Careful What You Sniff In Canada

A new crisis is developing in Canada and it’s not the housing bubble.

A far more sinister one, that is taking the country by storm, as a new wave of fentanyl has washed up on the shores of Canada from an unknown origin most likely China, and has made it onto city streets.

To our friends in the business district of Toronto, be - careful what you sniff - it might contain fentanyl. 

Here’s why:

The number of positive tests for fentanyl in samples of heroin seized by law enforcement agencies across Canada have exploded. Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service (DAS) revealed to CBC News that in 2012 .08% of 2,337 heroin samples tested positive for fentanyl. Fast forward to today and that number stands at 60.1% of 3,337 heroin samples, an astronomical jump visualized below.

Seems as China has turned on the fentanyl spigot in 2016 and 2017…

Over the past five-years of tests, marijuana samples seized by law enforcement agencies contained no fentanyl. But on a more interesting note, cocaine and methamphetamine seized by law enforcement agencies reported an increase. A potential health hazard for the modern day bankers in Toronto…..

The most common drugs the service tests for include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, hydromorphone, oxycodone, MDMA, alprazolam and GHB.

 

Fentanyl was not identified in any of the marijuana samples tested over the five-year period, while cocaine and methamphetamine saw increases from 0.01 per cent to 1.8 per cent and zero per cent to 1.7 per cent, respectively. Overall, the figures are stark. In 2012, only 217 of the street drug samples tested positive for fentanyl. Just as the number of lives claimed by the deadly opioid has skyrocketed since then, so too has the number of times fentanyl has showed up in samples of illegal street drugs. As of Sept. 30, DAS found fentanyl in 4,568 samples this year – an increase of 2,005 per cent.

According to Dr. David Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto:

“...the exponential increase of street drugs testing positive for fentanyl over the last five years doesn’t surprise.The illicit drug supply has never been more dangerous because of the profusion of fentanyl-related compounds. This is why so many people are dying. They’re dying because the drugs they’re using contain, you know, much more opioid than they thought.”

In fact, Juurlink is right as shown below...

Dr. Michael Krausz, a professor of psychiatry specializing in addiction at the University of British Columbia, explains drug dealers “want to save money or make higher profits”, so fentanyl is mixed into drugs like heroin or cocaine to stretch their supplies.

Krausz also said drug dealers are not skilled enough to keep fentanyl doses in a survivable range while mixing it with heroin or cocaine, which is why many experts believe overdoses are occurring. Simply, the end user is not realizing what he/she is getting and ends up dead.

Juurlink said several factors sparked fentanyl’s rise:

  • increase in demand for opioids as overprescription of painkillers led to addiction
  • flood of prescription medication
  • fentanyl patches
  • blackmarket

In British Columbia, 80% of the street drugs are laced with fentanyl. Four mothers who have lost their sons to overdoses advocate for state controlled drugs.

The Globe And Mail explains: Fentanyl’s deadly path

China is a key source of illicit fentanyl coming to Canada in response to demand from prescription-painkiller addicts as well as users of street drugs, traffickers are turning to a pharmaceutical-manufacturing giant to produce deadly, black-market versions of fentanyl, according to the RCMP.

Across Canada, police are seizing illicit fentanyl from China - Three examples from 2015: A package of fentanyl declared as a muffler was stopped on its way to Calgary; a man in Brampton, Ont., was charged with importing more than 500 grams of the drug; and a parcel destined for Halifax was found to contain 514 grams, worth about $1-million.

Once the drug is in, it is processed – often in Western Canada - Because illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are so potent, the white powder is cut or mixed with other drugs and fillers, before it can be sold on the street. Most of the 21 clandestine labs dismantled by police since 2013 operated in British Columbia and Alberta, according to a Globe and Mail analysis.

Bootleg fentanyl is highly lucrative - The math works like this, according to Edmonton physician Hakique Virani: A kilogram of pure fentanyl powder costs $12,500. A kilo is enough to make 1,000,000 tablets. Each tab sells for $20 in major cities, for total proceeds of $20-million. In smaller markets, the street price is as high as $80.

Fentanyl has been found in police busts all over the country -  The first known fentanyl seizure in Canada was from a clandestine lab in Montreal in April, 2013. Since then, police have busted traffickers in almost every province and the Northwest Territories, for a total of 58 across the country, according to The Globe’s analysis.

Bottom line: China is flooding North America with fentanyl through shipping routes into Canada. The opioid crisis is far from over and its about to kick into hyperdrive. The one question we ask: how will bankers in Toronto and or on Wall Street deal with the very real possibility their blackmarket stimulants could contain fentanyl?